Apply For or Renew Your PTIN
Beginning January 1, 2011, all paid preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number before preparing returns. If you already have a PTIN, you must renew it. You can sign up for or renew your PTIN online or by paper application.
To get your PTIN online, just follow four easy steps:
- Create Your Account – First, you must create an account by providing your name, email address and security question information. The system will then email your temporary password, which you will change when you go back to enter your information in the PTIN application.
- Apply for Your PTIN – You will complete the online application by providing personal information, information about your previous year’s tax return, professional credentials, and more.
- Pay Your Fee – The application will transfer you to the partner bank where you will make your payment by credit card or direct debit.
- Get Your PTIN – After the bank confirms your payment, your PTIN is provided online. If you already have a PTIN, you will retain the same number in most cases. You will also receive a welcome letter providing additional guidance.
It only takes about 15 minutes to sign up online and receive your PTIN. If you opt to use the paper application, Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application, it will take 4-6 weeks to process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who needs a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)?
A: A PTIN must be obtained by all tax return preparers who are compensated for preparing, or assisting in the preparation of, all or substantially all of any U.S. federal tax return, claim for refund, or other tax form submitted to the IRS except the following:
- Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number
- Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding
- Form SS-16, Certificate of Election of Coverage under FICA
- Form W-2 series of returns
- Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding
- Form 870, Waiver of Restrictions on Assessment and Collection of Deficiency in Tax and Acceptance of Overassessment
- Form 872, Consent to Extend the Time to Assess Tax
- Form 906, Closing Agreement on Final Determination Covering Specific Matters
- Form 1098 series
- Form 1099 series
- Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative
- Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method
- Form 4029, Application for Exemption from Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Waiver of Benefits
- Form 4361, Application for Exemption from Self-Employment Tax for Use by Ministers, Members of Religious Orders and Christian Science Practitioners
- Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically
- Form 5300, Application for Determination for Employee Benefit Plan
- Form 5307, Application for Determination for Adopters of Master or Prototype or Volume Submitter Plans
- Form 5310, Application for Determination for Terminating Plan
- Form 5500 series
- Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips
- Form 8288-A, Statement of Withholding on Dispositions by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests
- Form 8288-B, Application for Withholding Certificate for Dispositions by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests
- Form 8508, Request for Waiver from Filing Information Returns Electronically
- Form 8717, User Fee for Employee Plan Determination, Opinion, and Advisory Letter Request
- Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Return
- Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization
- Form 8942, Application for Certification of Qualified Investments Eligible for Credits and Grants Under the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Program
Q: I already have a PTIN. Do I need to take any action?
A: Yes. All federal tax return preparers, including those who obtained a PTIN prior to September 28, 2010, need to register in the new system. All preparers need to be registered in the new system and have a PTIN prior to filing any return after December 31, 2010. As long as the IRS can validate the ownership of the existing PTIN, the same number will be reassigned once the appropriate information is provided and the user fee is paid.
Q: Can multiple individuals or one office share one PTIN?
A: No, a PTIN is an individual preparer’s number. Each preparer must obtain his or her own PTIN.
Q: Can one individual obtain multiple PTINs?
A: No, an individual may only obtain one PTIN.
Q: If I don’t have a PTIN (new or renewed), can I still prepare returns?
A: No. You must wait until you submit an online or paper application, pay the fee, and obtain (or renew) a PTIN. Exception: Certain individuals who have made a good faith effort to timely obtain a PTIN but experienced processing issues are being advised they may prepare returns during the interim period while their applications are pending. These notifications are being issued on the online system to people who make four unsuccessful attempts to register and in writing (email or letter) to individuals who have timely submitted paper applications and payments.
Q: Is there an age requirement for obtaining a PTIN?
A: Yes, applicants must be 18 years of age.
Q: What penalties can be imposed against tax return preparers who have not obtained a PTIN?
A: Any individual who, for compensation, prepares, or assists in the preparation of, all or substantially all of a tax return or claim for refund after December 31, 2010 must have a PTIN. Failure to do so could result in the imposition of Internal Revenue Code section 6695 penalties, injunction, referral for criminal investigation, or disciplinary action by the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility. Exception: Certain individuals who have made a good faith effort to timely obtain a PTIN but experienced processing issues are being notified that they may prepare returns during the interim period while their applications are pending. These notifications are being issued on the online system to people who make four unsuccessful attempts to register and in writing (email or letter) to individuals who have timely submitted paper applications and payments.
Q: What is the difference between a PTIN and an EFIN? Does a preparer need both?
A: A Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a number issued by the IRS to paid tax return preparers. It is used as the tax return preparer’s identification number and, when applicable, must be placed in the Paid Preparer section of a tax return the tax return preparer prepared for compensation. Any individual who, for compensation, prepares all or substantially all of a tax return or claim for refund needs a PTIN. There is an annual fee of $50.00 for a PTIN and applicants must meet various suitability requirements.
An Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) is a number issued by the IRS to individuals or firms that have been approved as authorized IRS e-file providers. It is included with all electronic return data transmitted to the IRS. Paid preparers who reasonably expect to file 100 or more Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, or 1041 during 2011 are required to electronically file their clients’ returns. They (or their firm) need an EFIN, as do preparers who are not required to e-file but voluntarily desire to participate. There is no fee for an EFIN, but applicants must meet various suitability requirements. Preparer Tax Identification Numbers are issued to individuals. Electronic Filing Identification Numbers are issued to individuals or firms. Most preparers need both.